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Alex Marshall Books In Order

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Publication Order of The Crimson Empire Books

A Crown for Cold Silver (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Blade of Black Steel (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
A War in Crimson Embers (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Alex Marshall is the pseudonym of American author Jesse Bullington. He was born in Pennsylvania before his family relocated to the Netherlands and later back to the United States. He completed his high school diploma from SAIL High School in 2000. In 2005, he graduated from Florida State University with a dual bachelor’s degree in literature and history.

A Crown for Cold Silver is the first novel in the Crimson Empire series by Alex Marshall. The story takes place in the Star’s land. Two decades ago, General Cobalt Zosia triumphed over the mighty Crimson Empire with her five trusted captains, an army of mercenaries, and a group of devils. They fiercely conquered and claimed the throne through bloodshed and deaths. However, Zosia vanished shortly after her rise to power, becoming a part of myths and tales, along with her captains and their devilish allies.
Zosia didn’t just vanish into obscurity. Seeking a peaceful life, she retreated to a small, rural village. But this peace was brutally disrupted when her town was destroyed. Driven to uncover the reasons behind this devastation, Zosia is prepared to rekindle the war’s flames and pursue revenge if necessary.

This book stands out in how characters, particularly women, are depicted. This portrayal is refreshingly different from the typical representation of women in grimdark fiction, a genre often shaped by male authors. The novel challenges the norms by giving female characters active roles, diverging from the usual secondary or passive portrayals.

Another notable aspect is the focus on older characters leading action-packed narratives. This trend is gaining momentum in media, with the film “No Country for Old Men” showcasing older male protagonists in vigorous roles that defy their age.
Zosia, the heroine, is remarkable for her age and strength. Unlike typical portrayals of older characters as frail and needing care, Zosia defies this stereotype. She’s an elderly woman who can still unleash chaos like she did in her youth. The novel consistently depicts her as aged but never as weak or delicate. This portrayal challenges the standard joke about elderly people being overly fragile.

While Zosia’s physical abilities may have slightly declined with age, it doesn’t make her any less formidable. Her wisdom and strategic thinking, shaped by years of life and battle, make her a more intimidating figure than she was in her younger days.
The novel also focuses on Zosia’s captains, each with unique importance and storylines. Readers get glimpses of Zosia’s past – her fearsome reputation as a warrior and a celebrated general through them. These characters add depth to the narrative, showing different facets of Zosia’s life and leadership and highlighting her impact and legacy in their lives.

A Crown for Cold Silver presents a fascinating exploration of the relationships between Zosia and her captains. Each captain holds a unique perception of Zosia, believing they understand her best. However, their views only capture fragments of her true identity. This narrative approach cleverly develops characters in two ways: it reveals different aspects of Zosia’s personality as seen through various eyes, and it also reflects the individual traits and values of the captains themselves. What they notice and comment on about Zosia speaks volumes about their personalities and perspectives.

On the other hand, the story introduces younger characters like Sullen and Ji-Hyeon, who embody the changes in the world since Zosia’s disappearance. For them, Zosia is more of a legend or myth. Their interaction with her legacy is different. They see Zosia as either an inspirational figure or an idea they can adapt for their own purposes.

This generational contrast adds depth to the story. It shows how Zosia’s influence extends beyond her immediate circle and how the new generation interprets and uses her legend. This interplay between the older and younger characters provides a rich exploration of how legends are formed and how they impact the world and people across different times.

A Crown for Cold Silver weaves a theme highlighting how perceptions can be manipulated and used positively and negatively. This concept plays out on various levels, from personal relationships to political arenas. Zosia’s character embodies this theme perfectly. On one side, her story bolsters the ruling power of the Crimson Empire. Conversely, it becomes a symbol for those rebelling against this very government. Although some facts about Zosia’s identity and actions are clear, different groups twist these truths to support their agendas. This mirrors real-world propaganda, where facts are often shaped to suit different causes.

Zosia herself is a complex character who understands and exploits this play of perceptions. She’s not a master manipulator, but she’s skilled in recognizing how others see her and using these perceptions to her advantage.

Throughout the story, Zosia strategically aligns with or contradicts others’ views of her, sometimes subconsciously but mostly intentionally, to gain the upper hand. This aspect of her character shows she is far from a saintly figure. The novel encourages readers to remember this complexity when considering Zosia’s impact and legacy on those around her. Her actions and decisions throughout the story highlight her character’s nuanced, often morally ambiguous nature and influence on the world.

Overall, Crown for Cold Silver is a dark and intense fantasy novel. It’s filled with the typical elements of the grimdark genre, like bloodshed, brutality, and intense action. However, it stands out from other books in this genre, mainly how it handles its female characters. Unlike many similar novels, this book portrays its female characters in a more respectful and complex manner, avoiding the common pitfalls of the genre.

The characters in the novel are intriguing and multifaceted, making them particularly interesting to read about. They are not just simple figures in a fantasy world; they have depth, ambitions, flaws, and strengths gradually revealed as the story progresses. The plot is captivating and enjoyable, keeping readers engaged with twists and turns.

It’s not just a straightforward tale of fantasy; it’s a story that weaves together various characters and their complex motivations, set against a backdrop of a richly imagined world. This combination of complex characters and an engaging plot makes A Crown for Cold Silver a standout example in grimdark fantasy.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Alex Marshall

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